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The seat of Klickitat County. Brick buildings, new and ancient, front on the well-paved main street. Loggers, farmers, mill-men in pitch-spotted “tin” pants, and cattlemen, some with chaps, spurs, and ten-gallon hats, once strode the streets. Lumber and flour mills, box, sash, and door factories, dairying and diversified farming were the principal industries. The town was named after John J. Golden, who homesteaded here in 1863.

Goldendale lies at the southeastern edge of the Mount Adams Recreational Area, a region of lakes, streams, and forests, where game birds and a wide variety of trout and bass abound. The town is also on the old trail between The Dalles, Oregon, and Fort Simcoe. Today, Goldendale remains an agricultural community and is the largest city in Klickitat County.

John Golden was born in Pennsylvania in 1826 and came to California in September of 1852 as a gold seeker. He became a store keeper, seller of cattle and hogs. He went to the Frazer River in the spring of 1858 and eventually began cattle raising in the Klickitat Valley where most of his stock died during the winter of 1862. He later went into the lumber business owning sawmills and raised horses.


1939 image of an abandoned farm in the wheat growing countryside near Goldendale, along US 97, by Dorothea Lange.

Source: Library of Congress

1913 view of Goldendale, showing a large flock of sheep in the street.

Source: Washington State Historical Society

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Klickitat County Courthouse

The Klickitat County Courthouse in Goldendale, Washington is historically significant under Criterion A as a property that is directly associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of the growth, development and industry of Klickitat County. The building is also significant under Criteria C as a good example of its type and as a building that represents the work of a master architect, Day W. Hilborn. Completed in 1942, the building was originally intended to be constructed using monies provided by the Public Works Administration (PWA) program and the design reflect this era of programing. The period of significance begins and ends in 1942, the year of the building’s completion. Today, the building remains in use as the county courthouse, although there is now a separate building for the county jail and Sheriff’s office.

Goldendale Free Public Library

The site of the library was purchased from James and Amanda Stackhouse in 1912 in anticipation of a Carnegie construction grant. The purchaser and the driving force behind the establishment of a library was the Women’s Association. This organization still exists as a chapter of the Federated Women’s Clubs. The building was constructed in 1914, two years after the land purchase. The architect was Doyle and Paterson of Portland, Oregon. The first book in the new library was Millon the Floss, and the library still keeps a copy of this book in its collection as a tie to the past. In 1973, the library joined the Fort Vancouver Regional Library Association. The building serves as a representative example of a small Carnegie Library.

Newell House

The historic significance of the Newell House in Goldendale, Washington may be attributed to the fame of its original owner Charles Newell, a horse-trader of considerable renown in central Washington and throughout the Northwest. Charles Newell and his wife Mary are said to have built the unusual home c.1890 or 1891. They occupied it until c.1902 when changing fortunes brought them to the town of Toppenish in the Yakima Valley. Characterized by curiously slender proportions and a picturesque appearance, the Stick Style Newell House has long been a landmark to residents and travelers through Goldendale. The house commemorates one of central Washington’s most colorful pioneers, and is a remarkable architectural specimen in its own right.